SICB Logo: Click Here to go to the SICB Home Page
Committee Reports
General Elections
1999 SICB
Annual Meeting

Newsletters by Division:
Animal Behavior
Comparative Endocrinology
Comparative Physiology & Biochemistry
Developmental & Cell Biology
Ecology & Evolution
Evolutionary Developmental Biology
Integrative & Comparative Issues
Invertebrate Zoology
Systematic and Evolutionary Biology
Vertebrate Morphology

Division of Invertebrate Zoology (DIZ): 1999 Fall Newsletter

Star Coral

This Newsletter by Section

Message from the Chair

Daphne G. Fautin

Whether or not the end of December marks the end of the millennium is open to debate. There is no debate, however, about it marking the end of my term as chair of the Division of Invertebrate Zoology and Damhnait McHugh's term as program officer. She is being succeeded by Larry McEdward of the University of Florida, and my successor is Rachel Merz of Swarthmore College. Congratulations and best wishes, Rachel and Larry! Damhnait and I formally turn over our figurative gavels to the new officers at the end of the SICB Annual Meeting in Atlanta, January 4-8, 2000.

The Division of Invertebrate Zoology is co-sponsoring four symposia in Atlanta: "Antarctic Marine Biology," "Terrestrial Plant-Animal Interactions," "New Approaches to Studies of Marine Plant-Animal Interactions" and "Osmoregulation: An Integrated Approach." In addition, of course, many of our members will be making presentations. In order to be integrative, the paper and poster sessions will now be organized by theme rather than division. Thus, offerings by DIZ members will not necessarily be next to, before or after those of other DIZ members. This will serve to heighten the presence and strengthen the role of DIZ, which is already one of the more integrative divisions. But, we will have a chance to get together with other spineless types at our annual social gathering (consult your program for time and place), held with the American Microscopical Society (of which many of us are also members).

Susie Balser has another year as divisional secretary and organizing the Nominating Committee to find her replacement will be one of Rachel's first tasks as chair. If you are interested in serving either as secretary or on the Nominating Committee, please let Rachel or me know -- the Atlanta meeting provides a good opportunity to relate your ideas to us. We are always looking for eager young members (and not-so-young ones, for that matter) who want to be involved. Remember, SICB is your society!

I realized the central role of member activism more than ever when I took part in the strategic planning meeting in Chicago last July. We had some very serious and forthright brainstorming about the role of SICB and how we can regain numbers in membership and attendance at the annual meetings by remaining attractive to the loyal current membership and attracting biologists who are not now members. You can find president Martin Feder's statement on this matter elsewhere in the newsletter and also read the strategic plan at If you have ideas about achieving either of those broad objectives, let anyone on the Strategic Planning Committee know.

My three years as chair have sped by, in part due to the demands of an active society and division -- such as the annual meetings, the strategic planning meeting and nonstop correspondence with many of you. Thank you all for your support and help.

In last Fall's newsletter, I provided some of the more philosophical responses to a questionnaire I sent last year to DIZ members in an effort to assess the state of teaching invertebrate zoology in the colleges and universities of North America. These responses gave a flavor of the sentiments you expressed. The results of the portion of the survey concerned with textbook use (co-authored by Les Watling and me) should appear in the next issue of American Zoologist. The rest of this message compares the results of my survey with those from one conducted 10 years earlier by Rachel Merz (who is succeeding me as DIZ chair) and Jan Pechenik (who preceded me as DIZ chair), that gathered data for a DIZ symposium on teaching at the Boston meeting in 1989.

We all know effort and technique influence the results of teaching surveys, just as they do fish counts and mouse captures. Having no way of determining otherwise, I shall assume equivalence. Although our objectives differed (we did not ask the same questions), I think some comparisons are valid. In fact, I was startled at how similar some of our numbers turned out to be, despite my having heard from 109 people whereas Merz and Pechenik had 144 respondents. I believe that this in itself is instructive, and is one indication of a real decline in the teaching of invertebrate zoology in North America.

The 109 people who responded to me represented 99 institutions, 78.8 percent of which have a course in IZ. In eight of the 99 institutions, IZ had never been taught (to the knowledge of the respondent), and in 13 more, such a course was recently discontinued or was on the books, but had not been taught in some years. I infer these 13 recent casualties represent the decline during the past decade in the teaching of IZ -- for (13 + 78)/99 = 91.9 percent, a figure virtually identical to the 92.8 percent (116 of 125) of institutions found by Merz and Pechenik to be offering IZ 10 years ago. The good news is that the 78 institutions that offered IZ as of a year ago teach a collective total of 98 courses, some during the summer and some (typically advanced or taxon-specific ones) infrequently. Six IZ courses were reported to last more than one term -- 93.9 percent were a single term in duration, compared to 95 percent in the Merz and Pechenik survey. Thus, where IZ is taught it seems not to be losing ground. Although, of course, as I reported in my message a year ago, several of you are quite certain that when you retire, your replacement will not teach IZ.

The numbers appear to substantiate the impression we have -- that invertebrate zoology as a course is endangered. Is this a trend that merits fighting? If so, what kind of campaign can be mounted? If not, is any/some/most of the material that was covered in a traditional IZ course being taught in other courses? If it is, might it be reaching a larger audience than when it was confined to a single course? If it is not, is that lack detrimental to the training of biologists? I have a lot of questions, but no good answers. I urge you to consider these issues and take action. I am assuming by your membership in DIZ that you are convinced, as am I, that a firm acquaintance with the 95 percent of the animal kingdom that lacks a backbone is essential to sound biological training. Incorporate invertebrate zoology into more of your other courses, lobby to hire invertebrate zoologists in your department, invite invertebrate zoologists to give seminars in your department and support DIZ!

See you in Atlanta!

Message from the Program Officer

Damhnait McHugh

At the end of this year, I will be passing the baton on to our new program officer, Larry McEdward ( I want to take this final opportunity to strongly encourage all of you to become active members of our society and division by organizing DIZ-sponsored symposia or workshops, suggesting topic-based sessions you would like to chair or giving us feedback on the new programming approach. With the new strategic plan for SICB, an active membership is more vital than ever. So, after the new year (in the next millennium), I hope that you keep Larry very busy! He will be the person to contact if you want to submit a symposium or workshop proposal for the January 2002 meeting; the deadline is April 15, 2000.

As I write this, abstracts are being organized into topic-based sessions for Atlanta 2000, and soon I will be taking responsibility for scheduling those sessions in which DIZ is the primary division represented. As you know, this is our first time trying this approach to programming, and we hope it will reduce the scheduling conflicts and enhance the integrative and comparative aspects of our annual meetings. As I said, please express to me or Larry any comments or suggestions you have about the changes this new approach brings to the meeting.

In addition to contributed papers and posters, most of the symposia in Atlanta will feature aspects of invertebrate biology, including "Antarctic Marine Biology," "Hox Genes," "Opisthobranch Swimming," "Osmoregulation: An Integrated Approach," "Intermittent Locomotion" and "Plant/Animal Interactions." Clearly, we have an exciting meeting ahead of us, and I hope you can all make it. Y2K problems? I think they are overrated -- by January 4th you'll be glad you took off to Atlanta!

Message from the Secretary

Susie Balser

Our thanks are given to Clay Cook for his fine article on C.M. Yonge in the DIZ "Great Invertebrate Zoologists" series -- especially in light of the fact that Clay courageously finished the article amid preparations for the arrival of Hurricane Floyd. We also thank Dian-Han Kuo for the inspiring Libbie H. Hyman Scholarship Report.

Student and postdoctoral members are reminded to check out courses and programs for the summer of 2000. Deadlines for many of these programs are as early as January. DIZ members are also reminded of the proposed changes in the bylaws that were presented in the 1999 spring newsletter. These potential changes will be brought before the membership for vote during the annual DIZ business meeting in Atlanta.

Have you read the SICB strategic plan yet? I must admit that at first this seemed a daunting task, but decidedly well worth the time. A few deadlines are highlighted here. The Executive Committee requests that comments and suggestions about the plan be submitted this month. December 1 will bring the electronic publication of the revised strategic plan, incorporating input and requesting further comments from the SICB membership. During the SICB Business Meeting, members will have the chance to discuss and vote on the resolutions (as a whole or in part) of the strategic plan. DIZ members are encouraged to attend this meeting.

A foreseeable, given the increasing demands of academia, but disturbing statistic appeared in the current strategic plan proposal. According to the Strategic Planning Committee, volunteerism for duties within SICB is decreasing. Further, of those who do volunteer, only 50 percent actually honor the commitment. I urge all DIZ members, and especially the student and younger members (as future leaders) in the society to follow changes in the society, offer opinions and become involved in the governing and organization of the division and society. If you have not already, review the SICB Web site and the strategic plan. Offer suggestions to your officers or the SICB Business Office about areas of possible improvement. Attend the DIZ and SICB business meetings in Atlanta. Volunteer to serve on committees or run for office. And my favorite, contribute to the newsletter by submitting "Great Invertebrate Zoologist" articles, tasty bits of scientific information or clips of entertaining humor.

Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Report

Shea Tuberty, DIZ Graduate Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee Representative

Students and postdoctoral members of SICB enjoy many benefits, such as career-based workshops and employment services, not always afforded members of other national scientific societies. These free opportunities are designed to further the careers of young scientists, increase student participation in the SICB Annual Meeting and build collaborative relationships that may lead to the type of integrative science the society hopes to foster.

The Student/Postdoctoral Affairs Committee is a group of young SICB members who have volunteered, through their respective divisions, to participate in the planning of several meeting events held for the education and/or enjoyment of the quickly growing societal faction of young professionals. A few of these positions open each year (as these are three-year terms), and the committee is always looking for responsible people to help in the annual preparations.

This year's annual meeting in Atlanta offers several events that will definitely add to the wonderful experiences possible for you, the student, in Atlanta. The First Timers Orientation (Tuesday, January 4, 5:30 - 6:15 p.m.) is a good place to begin and learn more about the other events held for the students/postdocs, such as free socials and workshops. This orientation is actually a good place to start the meeting, even if you are a student member who has attended in the past.

The always-welcomed free Student/Postdoctoral Luncheon will be on Wednesday, January 5 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. This is another great opportunity to meet other students while enjoying the tasty food this event always provides! On Friday, January 7, the Strategies Workshop will be held from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. This workshop is planned every year to meet the urgent needs of the student/postdoctoral members. This year the focus of the workshop will be landing an academic job and acquiring research grants. These are topics that seem to always be of immediate interest to "larval" scientists trying to establish a funding history or get their foot in the door at a college or university. The committee's new president, Kevin Kelley, is in the process of enlisting qualified (and often entertaining) members of the academic and granting institutions to lead breakout discussions which will give attendees smaller venues for more enlightening question and answer sessions. These workshops are historically very well attended and are followed by the Student/Postdoctoral Party, which is a stimulating chance to socialize with other young scientists in a casual atmosphere over a few free drinks!

I hope you participate in all of the student functions, but I would be remiss if I didn't emphasize the importance of attending your particular divisional business meetings and the SICB Business Meeting as well. These meetings will clue you in to the way the divisions (and indeed the society) are run and give you a chance to meet those in charge of the society's future. This is also where you can contribute your ideas, vote on pertinent issues and volunteer yourself for divisional and societal committees (like the SPDAC).

Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship

Gordon Hendler, Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Committee Chair

An effort to increase the scholarship fund has begun so that two awards can be made annually to one undergraduate and one graduate student. Will you please help? Contributions, large or small, may be sent to: SICB Business Office, Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Fund, 401 N. Michigan Ave., McLean VA 22101. Checks should be made payable to SICB and marked as a "Contribution to the Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Fund."

This scholarship, in memory of Libbie H. Hyman, one of America's foremost invertebrate zoologists, provides assistance to students to take courses or to pursue research on invertebrates at a marine, freshwater or terrestrial field station. The amount of the 2000 award is approximately $700. The Hyman grant is intended to help support a first field station experience for a first- or second-year graduate student or an advanced undergraduate.

Completed applications must include:

  1. Application form
  2. Two (2) letters of recommendation from faculty members
  3. Transcripts of both undergraduate and (if applicable) graduate course work

Deadline: March 8, 2000
Notification of Awards: April 5, 2000.

Application forms and further information are available from:
Dr. Gordon Hendler
Chair, SICB Libbie Hyman Scholarship Committee
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Fax: 213/746-2999

1999 Libbie H. Hyman Scholarship Recipient Report

The Libbie H. Hyman Memorial Scholarship Committee unanimously selected Dian-Han Kuo, currently a second-year graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, as the 1999 award recipient. Kuo received a check for $700 to help defray the cost of enrolling in the "Comparative Invertebrate Embryology" and "Evolution of Developmental Patterns" courses at Friday Harbor Laboratories of the University of Washington. DIZ also provided him with an SICB gift membership, which includes a subscription to American Zoologist, and a gift membership to the American Microscopical Society, which includes a subscription to Invertebrate Biology.

The diversity of invertebrates has been one of the most fascinating subjects to me for a long time. A basic question rooted in the diversity of invertebrates is how the diversity is generated. One may consider that the evolution of developmental mechanisms used to build diverse morphologies would play a crucial role in the evolution of the animal kingdom. In recent years, fruitful results from the studies on a few model organisms have dominated our understanding of developmental mechanisms. However, model organisms only represent a few small branches on the tree of life. Comparisons between a fly and a mouse can tell us little about a jellyfish. Thus, comparative studies on developmental mechanisms in a wide variety of animals is an essential approach for understanding the evolution of developmental mechanisms. This is why I decided to take the courses of "Comparative Marine Invertebrate Embryology" and "Evolution of Developmental Patterns" at Friday Harbor Laboratories this past summer.

The extraordinary experiences at Friday Harbor Laboratories had a great impact on my view towards the sciences of evolution and development. This was the first time that I had the chance to study invertebrate organisms in their natural environment. It is also the first time that I have been able to concentrate on the biology of marine invertebrates for a period of time without any disruption. One of the most important features of the Friday Harbor Laboratories is the great diversity of marine fauna from the San Juan Archipelago. The richness of fauna provides an excellent opportunity for comparative studies on marine invertebrates. I also appreciated the library at Friday Harbor Laboratories for its extensive holdings and 24-hour service. I was able to access useful references whenever I came up with ideas without worrying about when the library closed.

During the courses, I realized that evolutionary developmental biology is a much more integrative science than I had ever thought. In addition to developmental biology itself, molecular genetics, ecology, paleobiology, evolutionary biology, systematics and even computer science can contribute to our understanding of the evolution of development. In practical terms, I also learned how to deal with different animals and their embryos in the laboratory; this is important for my interest in comparative studies of embryo development.

Specific questions that continue to interest me as well as a few paths of future research that resulted from the experiences during my stay at Friday Harbor Laboratories are outlined below.

  1. What questions to ask
    The group of invertebrates that interests me most is the Spiralia. Members of this group share a similar early developmental pattern and developmental program, but develop into very different adult body plans. I would like to know how diverse adult body plans arise from similar early developmental programs. The other side of this question is why these different animals share similar early developmental programs. Another question that caught my attention concerns the evolution of development among annelids, the group with which I am currently working, and their relatives, such as echiurans. One of the most intriguing reasons for my interest is simply that the development in these animals, especially their later development, is virtually unknown and they are such a prominent group within the Metazoa.
  2. How to answer the questions
    I am primarily a student of developmental biology. Thus, I study developmental processes and mechanisms. Methods to study the development could involve embryological and molecular approaches. Both approaches are essential, but have different roles. In nonmodel organisms, I believe that experimental embryological manipulation is more informative than gene expression data in terms of providing information about pattern and mode in a organism. However, gene expression data could possibly be used to explain the results from experimental embryology or further our understanding of the phylogeny of particular taxa. Besides developmental biology, phylogenetic analyses and fossil records can help us to reconstruct the evolutionary history of a group of animals and their developmental mechanisms.

Finally, I would like to thank the Libbie Hyman Memorial Scholarship Committee, Friday Harbor Laboratories and the Department of Zoology, University of Texas at Austin, for providing the financial support to make my trip to Friday Harbor Laboratories possible. I also thank Drs. Charlie Lambert, Larry McEdward, Steve Stricker and Greg Wray for sharing their knowledge and experiences in the lectures, laboratories and field trips. George von Dassow and Eric Edsinger-Gonzalez are kindly acknowledged for their assistance during the courses. I would also like to thank all participants in the "Comparative Invertebrate Embryology" and "Evolution of Development Patterns" courses for stimulating interactions.

Great Invertebrate Zoologists: Charles Maurice Yonge (1899-1986)

Clay Cook, Senior Scientist, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

C. M. Yonge was a member of a group of distinguished British marine biologists that included Frederick Russell and Alistair Hardy. Since the 1920s, this group has remained a notable influence in the study of marine invertebrates. The popular and peer-reviewed publications of these researchers have served as the first introduction of many students to marine biology; in particular, Yonge's pioneering contributions to molluscan and coral-reef biology have influenced several generations of invertebrate biologists.

A Yorkshireman, Sir Maurice Yonge was born in Wakefield in 1899 and attended a local school where his father was headmaster. After military service at the end of Word War I, he entered Oxford but left after a term to begin forestry studies at Edinburgh. The combination of J. H. Ashworth's course on invertebrates and a two-week visit to the Scottish Marine Laboratory at Millport during Easter recess piqued his fascination with marine invertebrates -- a fascination which grew into a life-long passion. In 1924, he completed his doctorate at Edinburgh on the physiology of feeding and digestion in marine invertebrates and was given the position of physiologist with the Marine Biological Laboratory at Plymouth. He had published his first paper on the feeding and digestion of the soft-shell clam Mya arenaria in 1923, and at Plymouth he concentrated on the physiology of oysters. Thus, he developed his major research interest -- the functional morphology of molluscs, particularly bivalves. It was at Plymouth that he met Frederick Russell. Yonge had been writing popular articles for newspapers, and he and Russell decided to work on a book on marine biology. That book - The Seas - was published in 1928 and became a classic.

As Joel Hedgpeth has pointed out in his biographical sketch (Hedgpeth, 1987), The Seas had an unexpected effect on Yonge's career. The Great Barrier Reef Committee, in conjunction with the University at Cambridge and other organizations, had been planning an expedition to study the biology of Australia's Great Barrier Reef and needed someone to lead and coordinate the undertaking. The chapter on coral reefs in the book appears to have been one of the factors involved with the decision, although it was "one of the chapters neither author knew much about at the time" (Hedgpeth, 1987), and the authorship was decided by a coin toss. Yonge was selected at the age of 28 to head the 18-month expedition (1928-29). This was the first of its kind to examine coral reef biology in depth, and the participants included such notable invertebrate biologists and marine ecologists as Russell, Sidnie Manton, S. M. Marshall and T. A. Stephenson. The findings of the expedition were published by the British Museum in a remarkable series of monographs that continued until 1968, and in a very real sense set the stage for coral-reef research for the rest of the century. In addition to his administrative role, Yonge concentrated on the biology of corals and Tridacna, and was the first to experimentally address the question of the significance of symbiotic zooxanthellae for these animals. His work was the first demonstration that corals evolve oxygen and take up phosphorus in the light - seminal observations that have since stimulated many coral biologists.

I recall how this work affected my own career. In 1966, I was a beginning graduate student taking summer courses at the Duke Marine Laboratory. At the time, I had thoughts of working with John Vernberg on physiological ecology, but found that working on the physiology of Gulf Stream crustaceans would present numerous practical problems. Steve Wainwright had spent that summer measuring oxygen fluxes of corals in the Florida Keys with John Kanwisher. I'd been intrigued with this, so I called Steve from Beaufort and told him of my interest. He suggested that I go to the DUML library and read Yonge's monographs. As I remember, I spent that night in the library and was hooked. Years later Len Muscatine, then president of ASZ, ran the first ASZ auction. Among the prizes was a set of Yonge's monographs from the expedition. Suffice it to say that they now occupy an honored place on my cluttered bookshelf.

Yonge's interest in coral reefs continued throughout his career, including a series of papers published with the late T. F. Goreau, founder of the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory in Jamaica. However, his major research interest continued to be molluscan biology. He published a long series of papers on the functional morphology of chitons, gastropods and especially bivalves, and was the first to use anatomical patterns (especially the mantle cavity and ctenidial structure) to develop functional and phylogenetic frameworks. In 1944, he was appointed Regius Professor of Zoology at the University of Glasgow and was elected to the Royal Society in 1946. He retired in 1964, but continued do research there and, after 1970, at Edinburgh. In addition to his peer-reviewed papers, he authored several books on molluscan and marine biology. These included The Sea Shore (1949), Oysters (1960) and Living Marine Molluscs (1976, with T. E. Thompson). He served for 17 years as editor of Advances in Marine Biology and, with Karl Wilbur, edited the two volumes of Physiology of Mollusca. He was awarded a knighthood in 1967, and that year visited Karl at Duke. Karl asked me to introduce him at a departmental seminar; very nervously I did so, addressing him as "Professor Yonge." He graciously pointed out that since he had retired three years earlier, "Dr. Yonge" would have sufficed - not saying that "Sir Maurice" would have been most appropriate. The British Malacological Society has established the Sir Charles Maurice Yonge award for the most significant contribution to bivalve biology to appear in the Journal of Molluscan Studies.

As with other scientists who think in broad terms and sometimes write with broad strokes, Yonge's interpretations of his observations generated much research - and occasional controversy. His views of topics such as the role of zooxanthellae in the nutrition of corals, the morphological relationship between Tridacna and its zooxanthellae and the evolutionary relationships among some bivalve groups spurred others on to test these ideas. The number of students and the body of work, both malacological and reef-related, directly or indirectly influenced by him are testament to his stature.

My thanks to Kris Metzger, Harbor Branch librarian, for her efforts in tracking down biographical material. The following were used as sources for this piece:

Baxter, J. H. S., and A. J. Southward 1986. Sir Maurice Yonge, 1899-1986. Advanced Marine Biology 23:vii-viii.

Hedgpeth J W. 1987. In Memoriam: Sir Maurice Yonge F.R.S. 1946; C.B.E. 1954, Kt. 1967. The Veliger 30:1-4

Morton, B. 1992. Charles Maurice Yonge. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of The Royal Society 38: 377-412

Back to Top


The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
1313 Dolley Madison Blvd Suite 402
McLean VA 22101
Phone: 703-790-1745 or 800-955-1236
FAX: 703-790-2672